More than one thousand carriages are delivering additional seats for customers across Scotland’s Railway, following the arrival of ScotRail’s brand-new fleet of trains. The company completed its rollout of Class 385 trains into passenger service in December 2019, and the final addition to the 70-strong fleet of electric trains has brought the train operator’s total number of carriages across Scotland’s Railway to 1016 – an increase of 28 per cent since the start of the Abellio franchise.
Commenting on the investment, Alex Hynes, Managing Director of Scotland’s Railway, said: “We know that one of the biggest concerns for our customers is busy trains, so to now have more than one thousand carriages delivering more seats across the network is another import milestone for ScotRail. The introduction of our new and upgraded trains has also helped improve journey times and provide a better experience for our customers.”
The state-of-the-art Hitachi built Class 385 trains operate on routes across Central Scotland, and the completion of platform extensions at Glasgow Queen Street station by Network Rail has enabled ScotRail to operate eight-carriage Class 385 Express trains between Glasgow and Edinburgh via Falkirk High.
ScotRail is also in the process of introducing 26 refurbished high-speed Inter7City trains to connect Scotland’s seven cities. When the Inter7City rollout is complete, it will allow the train operator to make better use of its existing trains, with even more carriages deployed to Fife and the Borders.
The introduction of new and upgraded trains is part of Abellio’s £475 million investment in Scotland’s Railway.
Milestone train rollout
Tuesday 21 January saw brand new longer trains going into passenger service on Greater Anglia’s Sudbury-Marks Tey route. Made by Swiss manufacturer, Stadler, the new trains have more seats, USB and plug points, free fast wifi, air conditioning, better passenger information screens and improved accessibility including a retractable step at every door which bridges the gap between the train and the platform, making it easier to get on and off with a wheelchair, buggy or heavy luggage.
They are much greener than Greater Anglia’s old diesel trains, with lower emissions, and modern brakes which release less brake dust into the environment.
Speaking on the day the train service commenced, Ian McConnell, Greater Anglia franchise and programme director, said: “The first of our new trains went into passenger service in July on our Norwich-Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft routes. Today is an important milestone in the rollout of our bi-mode trains which are replacing our old diesel trains, as it’s the tenth and final route where we are starting to run our new bi-mode trains in passenger service.
“Over coming weeks, the transition to all new trains will be complete on Greater Anglia’s diesel rural routes. The new trains are longer and equipped with everything a 21st century rail passenger expects to make their journey better. They will also ultimately bring us improved reliability.”
Pace of change
Angel Trains, one of Britain’s leading train leasing companies, has announced plans to offer Class 142 Pacer units to heritage railways and emergency services following the withdrawal of the trains from service, with proceeds donated to charity.
The Class 142 Pacer DMUs are a longstanding feature of British rail travel, built between 1985 and 1987. Since then, the units have been upgraded and refurbished in order to offer a low-cost solution to train operators and passengers on regional services that otherwise may not have had service.
With the Pacers set to come off-lease from Northern Rail imminently, Angel Trains recognises the importance of innovation and modernisation for the future of Britain’s railways and does not have plans to re-lease the Pacers to franchise operators.
Kevin Tribley, CEO at Angel Trains, said: “Although the Pacers have served the industry well for many years, their scrappage is a significant move towards an improved rail network across the region.”
VTG Rail UK has signed an agreement with WH Davis to build 84 new Ecofret2® triple container wagons. Ecofret2® is the latest innovation in maritime container transport and a revolutionary addition to VTG Rail’s fleet. The new wagons include benefits such as a brand new, track friendly bogie with enhanced dynamic ride performance and additional mounting points for increased loading flexibility.
Ian Shaw, Sales & Marketing Director, VTG Rail, explained some background: “In order to handle the larger 40ft containers in the most efficient way, we have needed to continually innovate and think outside the box. Ecofret2® builds on the efficiency benefits provided by the original Ecofret since its introduction seven years ago, and will help rail freight operators continue to meet shipper demand further enhancing the business case for rail. As with all new VTG wagons, Ecofret2® will be fitted with our ‘Connect’ telematics system, allowing users to subscribe to a range of GPS-based tracking and monitoring services.”